Review: CSI: New York–‘Do Not Pass Go’

A killer leads two grief-stricken parents on a race around the city in search of their son’s remains.

Synopsis:

Charles and Elizabeth Harris, whose son Jeremy has been missing for a week, follow a specific set of instructions in the hopes of finding Jeremy alive… but are instead lead to a car on a roof of an abandoned building which contains a young man’s decomposing dead body. When the CSIs arrive at the scene, Hawkes and Sid are tasked with removing the body from the car and getting it to the morgue so they can obtain DNA from the bone marrow, while Mac and Jo speak to the grieving parents, who tell them they got a huge influx of calls after they offered a reward for information about Jeremy. Only this call, with instructions for them to go to the abandoned building, had any credibility. Back at the lab, Jo’s adopted twelve-year-old daughter Ellie stops by to complain about New York, but Jo urges her to be patient with the new town and her new school. Adam plays the voicemail the Harrises followed for Mac, who puzzles over the specific instructions which involve going to the building, going to the twentieth floor, sitting on a couch, and taking the stairs rather than the elevator to the roof, making sure to hold on to the railing. Sid uncovers a tattoo on the young man’s arm that allows the CSIs to ID the dead boy not as Jeremy but Craig Anderson, who attended NYU with Jeremy. Hawkes can’t find any COD for Craig, leading him to believe Craig was most likely poisoned, but not by any of the commonly used toxins.

While Jo is able to tell the Harrises that the body of the boy doesn’t belong to Jeremy, Flack has the sad task of consoling Sally Anderson, who is crushed to learn of Craig’s death. Charles Harris comes back to the station to let Flack know another call has come in, and that his wife has run off to respond to it; he recalls enough details to lead the CSIs to a transportation warehouse in Brooklyn, where the CSIs find Elizabeth in a burning room. After Flack puts out the fire, they learn she was instructed to use a can of gasoline to set fire to the entire room, which contained a makeshift lab and several snakes, as well as an apron. Lindsay finds blood on the apron that she’s able to match to an unsolved murder from a year ago: the shooting of a bartender named Ryan Parisi. Adam discovers the two SIM cards used for the disposable phones the calls were placed from were sequential; he is able to trace the next number in the sequence to a specific area, and Lindsay recalls the bar Ryan Parisi worked at, O’Devlins, is in that area. Jo and Flack go to the bar, call the number and see the bartender reach for his phone, When he spots Flack and Jo watching him, he flees. Flack gives chase, and Jo ends up knocking the bartender out with a dumpster.

Mac tells the bartender, Reuben Lewis, that he’s matched his voice to the one on the voicemails the Harrises received. Reuben insists he made the calls for a friend and asks for a lawyer. Mac finds a florescent stamp on Reuben’s hand for Riker’s Island, and the CSIs pull up the visitation records and learn Reuben visited a fellow bartender from O’Devlins named Allison Scott, who is in jail on a drug possession charge. Allison was also engaged to Ryan Parisi. Hawkes pulls up the Ryan Parisi case file and learns that Ryan kicked two guys out of the bar on the night of his murder for hitting on Allison: Craig Anderson and Jeremy Harris. After Ryan was shot in the back and left to die in an alley, the boys were questioned but no evidence connected them to the murder. Jo visits Allison, bitter and hardened by the death of her fiancé, in prison, and Allison admits to luring Craig to the abandoned building, poisoning him with the snake venom and leaving him to die a slow and agonizing death in the car. She didn’t have a criminal record and didn’t worry about leaving any evidence behind… until she was arrested on the drug possession charge. She got Reuben to lead the Harrises to her crime scenes… and to unwittingly destroy evidence for her. Jo tells her partial prints on the bullet that killed Ryan have eliminated both Craig and Jeremy as possible suspects in the murder, and urges Allison to give up the location of Jeremy’s body. Allison does, and Mac, Flack and Hawkes race to the marine salvage yard she identifies. They find Jeremy on a mattress, and Hawkes is shocked to discover he’s alive! The paramedics rush to the scene to administer anti-venom, and the Harrises are overjoyed to discover their son is alive. Jo takes her daughter out for a burger and is happy to find Ellie is growing more comfortable at her new school.

Analysis:

A cleverly crafted, emotional episode inventive enough that the plot holes and conveniences are mostly forgivable, “Do Not Pass Go” takes the time to give the characters some great moments while not sacrificing the quick pace it clips along at. I admit, I was scratching my head when Mac happened upon the stamp on Reuben’s hand, but presumably the team discovered his Riker’s visit before Mac questioned him and not the other way around. Mac might be good, but buying that he can sniff out invisible (to the naked eye) hand stamps is a bit much! It’s also a bit of a coincidence that Allison waits a year to exact her revenge and then gets picked up on drug charges almost immediately after attacking Craig and Jeremy, and perhaps an even bigger one that she’s able to mastermind a brilliant cover-up plan and enact it while behind bars, but all of the CSI shows rely on such coincidences.

Maite Schwartz makes a powerful impression as the embittered Allison, who has clearly been hardened by the death of her intended. She tells Jo that he died in her arms, and barks back at the CSI when Jo brings up the Harrises’ grief, growling, “Don’t talk to me about grief!” She’s unrepentant about the murders, and even when Jo tells her that the boys have both been ruled out as suspects in Ryan’s death, all she offers is Jeremy’s location. No apology, no expression of regret; Allison’s life has been destroyed by Ryan’s death, and despite the fact that she went to great lengths to cover her tracks, the easy way she tells Jo how she killed Craig, with no regret or reluctance in her voice, shows just how far gone she is. Allison doesn’t really care about what happens to her now that she’s had her revenge, and even the revelation that the men she attacked weren’t responsible for Ryan’s death doesn’t faze her much. She’s too far gone.

Thomas Calabro and Helen Slater are sad figures as Jeremy’s desperate parents, willing to follow the instructions left on their voicemail to the letter in the hopes of seeing their son again. That he’s alive at the end of the episode seems a bit too lucky; Mac comes up with a scientific explanation, but he alludes to it being a miracle, which seems more accurate, if a bit fanciful for a science-based show. Still, after all the Harrises go through during the course of the episode, it’s impossible not to want the miracle for them. Jeremy being alive and on the mend at the end of the episode is a bright ending for what otherwise is a fairly tragic entry.

Flack is charged with the sad duty of informing Craig’s mother, Sally, of her son’s death, and in a scene that once again proves why Eddie Cahill is this show’s MVP, he consoles the grieving mother. Flack, who can be sarcastic and brash with suspects, is capable of great sensitivity and feeling towards those who have lost loved ones. He gently guides Mrs. Anderson away from the precinct and advises her against seeing her son’s remains. When Flack promises that they’ll find out who killer her son, Sally retorts that finding Craig’s killer won’t bring him back. She feels bad as soon as she’s said it, but Flack comforts her, and admits that “children aren’t supposed to die.” Flack is an insightful and sensitive character, and he’s easily one of CSI: NY‘s greatest assets.

The audience learns a little more about Jo in this episode, and gets to meet her adopted daughter, the mature and sharp Ellie, who shows up at the lab to complain about their new home. Ellie is getting picked on at school by a boy Jo suspects actually has a crush on her, and misses their home in Virginia. Jo doesn’t condescend to her daughter; she admits that she’s getting used to New York, too, but gives Ellie a pep talk, reminding her the three of them—including Ellie’s older brother Tyler—are the three musketeers and that things will get better. And by the end of the episode, they do: Ellie has aced a book report while her nemesis has only gotten a C. It might be a little simple for Ellie to make such a quick turn in the course of a single episode, but such are the realities of episodic television. The impression that remains is that Jo is a pretty cool mom, close to her children but not in a way that stifles them: when her son Tyler calls and begs off for dinner, Jo is disappointed but understanding.

Jo is simply a fun character: I love the way she teased Mac about the possibility that she worked as a burlesque dancer in college before revealing she simply did the books for a burlesque club. Her disorganized, messy desk causes Mac to raise an eyebrow, but he doesn’t comment. Jo seems to have managed the impossible: drawing the reserved Mac out of his shell. He’s genuinely curious about her past, and he even goes so far as to look up her file to find out about her daughter. Rather than being put off by Mac’s nosiness, Jo is open with him about Ellie’s past—Jo adopted her at two after putting away her drug-addicted mother for murder—and even invites Mac to join them for dinner. Mac declines, but he seems much more comfortable with Jo than he is with most people. Sela Ward‘s bright, charismatic Jo is simply a great addition to the team.

Though it’s largely a serious episode, there are a few priceless moments of comic relief here. Adam doesn’t have the same luck drawing Mac out that Jo does; when he gamely offers his boss a “What’s up?” after pulling the voicemail for Mac to listen to, Mac simply stares him down and presses the overeager lab tech to play the audio file. Adam has grown bolder in his attempts to engage Mac, but alas, it seems as though the CSI leader is immune to his efforts. Mac might find Adam amusing, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to outright encourage his antics.

Flack’s love of food also gets a nod here: when Flack is talking with Mrs. Anderson, she tells him her son’s first words were related to basketball. Not so for Flack: he reveals his were “cake” and “cookie.” For longtime fans of the show, this is no surprise: Flack has a deep and abiding love for food, which he mentions with relish whenever the opportunity comes up. The scene is a serious one, but hearing that Flack’s first words were food related is bound to bring a smile to longtime fans who are well aware of the detective’s passion for food.

Source: "Do Not Pass Go"

Kristine Huntley

Author

Kristine Huntley

Kristine Huntley is a freelance writer and reviewer.

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